I’m going to get personal.
I have a confession to make: I hate my smile.
A lot of people ask me why I hate my smile when I admit that I am not fond of it. To be honest I’m not sure entirely. As I child, I remember there was nothing I hated more than people telling me to smile. “Smile, everyone’s watching!” “Smile for your picture!” “You don’t smile enough!” “Smile more!” “Smile!” “SMILE!!!!!”
It was enough to drive me insane, and I heard it all the time in numerous venues: dance class, drama, school, social encounters, and at family gatherings…. from certain family members. Though I understand that smiling is a good thing, I can’t imagine that anyone on this earth walks around with a constant smile glued to their face. I wasn’t always the happiest person growing up, and the constant pressure to smile would really push me to the breaking point. Sometimes I really, truly, did not want to smile…..and yet people would demand it from me all the time. I didn’t want to put forth a lie, I didn’t want to fake it, and yet it was demanded that I smile when I didn’t feel like smiling.
Those days were rough.
The truth is, for the longest time I honestly hated my smile. Truth be told, for several years I did not smile in photographs in such a way that I showed my teeth for years. I think the only pictures of me smiling—open mouth smiling—in high school and middle school were candid shots. I always smiled a closed lip smile, because I felt awkward doing it any other way. Perhaps it was a confidence thing….
I don’t have perfect teeth, but then again, I’ve never been one of those people who were really concerned too much about it anyway. I grew up in the 90’s and I remember that it seemed an especially important thing at that time to have super blind everyone white teeth….which I didn’t have, and I’m sure I probably never will have. Also, my teeth are far from perfect….my two front teeth are a little big, and there’s a small space between them…. and my bottom teeth are not perfectly white and straight either.
But it’s not even my teeth that make me hate my smile.
I hate when people tell me to smile and I feel like it doesn’t fit the scene.
I once did a gothic fashion shoot while I was in Japan, and this one photographer kept hounding me to smile. I thought it was the most ludicrous thing I had ever heard. Why would I smile? I’m wearing spikes and buckles and chilling on a rooftop looking tough……why would I smile like a vapid catalog model? I’m pretty used to looking dark, serious, and intense so it’s always a bit weird when someone tells me to smile. One of the things that drew me to gothic fashion was the dark look, and the absence of models with huge toothy grins. The only way to really get me full fledged smile is to make me laugh.
Luckily some photographers I know do that all too easily…..
But I think I realized the thing I hate most about smiling in photos is I feel like only I know when the smile is genuine. If someone waits too long to take the picture, I can tell. I can see the telltale hints in my face that I was trying to hold the smile past the point of smiling…..but the thing is only I can seem to see this, and I think that’s why it bothers me so much.
Maybe I’m being too critical of myself; maybe the real issue is that I am too used to the deadpan model face that I see everywhere so often lately. But I will say one thing: since I started modeling I have learned that there are certain ways to smile and hold a smile that I certainly never knew when I was younger. It is a technique that needs to be practiced over and over and over. I’ve also found that with a better attitude and a more confident opinion of myself, I’ve also found some confidence to actually like my smile, especially with comments like this one:
Okay, if you say so, I guess I’ll try to like it just a little more. 😛